FMCG brand failures in the past few years: What did not work and why?
The sheer size of the Indian market can be irresistible to FMCG firms- big/small and domestic/foreign. Consumers behave differently in different regions, which demands due in-depth study before any product launch. Some FMCG products have not succeeded or their success was way below the company’s expectations for which there could be hundreds of reasons. Ignoring socio-cultural factors can be one cause for products’ success or failure particularly for foods. Indians eat ‘breakfast’ which is usually freshly cooked dishes. The kitchen is a lively place every morning hence cooking up a hot fresh meal is easy. Further domestic help is not prohibitively expensive so those with time constraints too have some help. Kellogg’s entered India with its international range of breakfast cereals, a concept to which consumers had to be familiarised with. The cereal turned soggy when hot milk is added which people did not like. It was costlier as well. Later, the company introduced the Mazza range with totally Indian flavours, which may have better appealed to this market. Consumers did not like the taste of a noodle like snack called Annapurna 4 O’clock Tiffin by HUL. Vanilla Coke has been forgotten by most, even those who may have tasted it. Another reason may be inappropriate brand extensions. Despite Chik’s successful shampoo its Chik Kali mehendi or Chik toilet soap were not as popular. Ponds toothpaste failed as consumers associated the brand with something that is applied on the skin. Nirma soap and Nirma Blue did not succeed, as consumers could not clearly differentiate them from Nirma’s successful yellow detergent powder. Consumers did not take to Lux chocolate soap with an open heart! If a product does not fall into a particular category then its performance may not match expectations. E.g. a chocolate spread called Covo by Lipton. Lack of a well-developed segmented distribution strategy; insufficient retailer margins or the new product cannibalising sales of another company product or the same in a different price/volume range are potential weak areas. The 200ml Coke priced at Rs 5 did not succeed for partly these reasons. Success of a product may also be subject to some technical problems with the product, prompt and aggressive reaction by competitors, issues related to distribution. Moti soap is not available any more. Sunfill soft drink concentrate has been withdrawn. There is no assured success formula and products may fail despite extensive homework for perceived needs/wants.

About the author: Archana Pande is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs.